Monday, September 24, 2012

Lessons Learned

So, why does it take getting to my wits end before I wake up and realize some of life's simplest lessons?  Like the fact that worrying gets you nowhere.  I seem to have made an art out of it.  I used to actually pride myself in the fact that I tend to expect the worst and hope for the best.  Which almost sounds logical - in a sad sort of way.  I hoped my son's arm was simply  strained and that he was still on the road to complete recovery.  But I feared he had re-torn it and would need another operation - with 6 weeks of total immobilization of his right arm, and 6 more months of therapy before he could throw a ball or comfortably write an essay.  The thought of it was making me crazy.  The reality of the situation ended up landing where it usually does - somewhere in between. 

We went to the doctor today and he said that, short of re-operating, there is no way to be sure if my son's stitches have come apart.  We have to base what we do on how he feels as time goes by.  The good news is that he actually did feel better today.  The better news is that, at his age, enough healing should have already taken place to prevent a re-tearing.  We will see the doctor again in 2 weeks to make sure he is still improving.   Which leaves us, well...much better off than we were last week.  Tonight I am optimistic.  And happy.  A weekend of fasting was very good medicine.  Coupled with prayer and reading, it left me feeling wonderfully optimistic.   The "good" news was just the icing on the cake.  I highly recommend it and will provide specifics if you wish.  That's what I'm here for! 


Friday, September 21, 2012

Finding Strength in Times of Pain

2012 has been a sucky year.  Starting in January when my younger son first injured his shoulder, and moving on to April when I  realized I had been bitten by a tick and was reacting to the bite, it has been one thing after another.  My son ended up needing shoulder surgery (something we could not figure out until June!), and I was diagnosed with Lyme disease, something that has come back with a vengeance.    In between and since then, there has been what seems like a non-stop barrage of disappointments, bad news, and pain.  But that is not the reason for this post - to whine and complain about how unfair life can be.  Because we all know: Life. Isn't. Fair.  What I want to share with you is how awesome God is - especially when it seems like you have been pushed to your limit and can not take any more.

A few days ago, I got pretty close to hitting rock bottom.  I was ready to throw in the towel and give up.  No, I wasn't suicidal, but I didn't care if I lived or died.  And, worst of all, I was angry at God.  Didn't He promise us that He would never allow us to go through more than we could bear?   My son was hurting - badly - may need another operation on his shoulder, and, to me, that was it.  You can mess with me all you'd like, but mess with one of my kids?... I am convinced that a mother has a connection with her children that is stronger than super-gluing your fingers together, stronger than a paper clip on a 5-pound magnet, stronger than - well - you get the picture.  Since January, I watched my son slowly spiral downward on the injury trail.  And, finally, he was on the mend.  Then this?!  Since stress exacerbates most other ailments, my health took a dive as well.  Pain increased in all my joints and my heart felt like it would burst.   And each day, it has gotten worse and worse.  Until, that is, today.

Today I did what I should have done weeks or months ago.  I cried my heart out to God and then waited...and waited...and listened.   Not only did God soothe and calm me, filling me with that peace that passes understanding that you hear so much about, but He gave me specific instructions.  First of all, He directed me to His Word - I and II Samuel.  I am to read those books this weekend, along with fasting and praying.  And what is even cooler than that is that He directed me to call a friend who often fasts and prays when her son or any loved one is ill to ask her how she fasts and to follow her advice.  I was going to go on an all-liquid diet, but that isn't what she does, nor is it what I will do.  God is so good.  With the way I am feeling, an all-liquid diet would have weakened my immune system further.  I am to give up meat, including fish and eggs, and not eat any pasta or bread until dinner.  During the day, I can eat cottage cheese with fruit and all the veggies I want, including potatoes.  Sounds almost the way we Orthodox Christians eat during Lent and Advent (minus the cottage cheese).   I am really excited about doing this!  

Do I believe the result will be that my son will miraculously be healed and will, therefore, not need another operation?   Not necessarily, although I certainly "hope" that will be the case.  But I do believe that, no matter what happens, my son will be fine.  Better than fine, he will be great.  After all, his faith is often exemplary and he has been an encouragement to me on many occasions.  I even wrote about it in a post entitled "Reflections on a Recent Chat With My Son" (September 9th, 2011).   Also, I need to make it clear that I do not believe that God caused my son's injuries.  I don't believe He causes anything like that to happen to anyone.  Things happen in life, and activities my son engaged in resulted in his shoulder getting bursitis and his labrum tearing. 

I don't know who reads my Blog anymore.  For reasons beyond my understanding, it seems that many of you who do read it, can not comment on anything I say.  The Blog post, "How to Post a Comment on This Blog" has gotten the most hits out of anything else I have written!  So, when I write to you all,  I feel like I am talking to the wind.  I know that not everyone believes in God and that some people who read this post may be offended or think I am nuts for attributing my feelings of peace, and subsequent instructions on maintaining it, to an omniscient being.  So be it.   My hope is that, whatever you believe,  you can find encouragement in the strength I found today.  Although I am a Christian, my friend whose dietary advice I was instructed to take is a wonderful, God-fearing Hindu.   Our God is bigger than "religion", bigger than any one "church", and I love Him for that with all my heart. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cucumber Water - Easy, Healthy, and Delicious!

Since my husband and I visited Woodward House in Front Royal for my birthday weekend, 3 items have become staples in my diet: a poached egg over a slice of homemade bread, grated orange-peel infused sugar (that I have with Oolong tea), and cucumber water.   I am ashamed to say that I used to be one of those people who just did not like water.  I tried it filtered and could taste metallic and even chlorine-tinted undertones.  I concluded that Nestle's Pure Life was the best bottled water, but I still had to almost force it down to get the up to 8 glasses I needed each day.  It was, for lack of a better word, boring.  And then, I discovered cucumber water. 
So simple and yet so refreshing, cucumber water is a delicious and healthy alternative to just about any other "water" out there.  The pitcher in the photo above holds about a quart of water.  I do use bottled water - usually Nestle Pure Life - and add to it 1/2 peeled and sliced cucumber.  I cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator where the flavors become infused.  The finished product, served with or without a slice of cucumber in the glass, has elevated water to a whole new level for me.  The cucumber taste is subtle and very pleasant, making the water taste fresh, crisp, and light.  I believe the cucumber undertones mask any possible unpleasantness inherent in plain water.  But it also elevates it to the level of a "beverage of choice".   I have never really been a huge fan of eating cucumber slices, but in my water, I love them!   And the best part - the "bonus", you could say - is that it is a healthy addition to your diet. 
As soon as the cucumber slices hit the water, they begin to impart, not only their crisp clean taste, but their nutrients into the resulting beverage.  Each glass provides Vitamins C, A, and K, as well as Potassium and trace amounts of Iron and Calcium.  And whether you choose to add a small slice of actual cucumber to your glass or not, the water contains fiber and is a natural diuretic.  Ever since I have been drinking this delightful water, I have had no problem with irregularity or with accumulating water weight.  And let's just say that both used to be issues in my life... How much do I drink?  To be honest, about a pitcher to 2 pitchers a day.  Whenever I want water (as opposed to green or herbal tea), I drink cucumber water. 
As the water level goes down in the pitcher, I just pour another bottle over the cucumber slices and I'm ready to enjoy another glass (or 2 or 3...).   Make sure to use new cucumber slices every 3 days to keep your water fresh.  I hope that, like me, you too will become a fan of cucumber water and that it will help you to drink those 6 to 8 glasses of water a day, giving you some healthy benefits as well.
Until next time, happy and healthy eating (and drinking!)